Cocktails are beautiful—crystal-clear blocks of ice, quirky antique glassware, the jewel tones of aperitif wines, the carefully balanced garnish. We drink with our eyes first. So it's strange that I own so few truly beautiful cocktail books. In my shelves of bound drink recipes, there are very few books with really high production value, with photos as glamorous as the drinks themselves.
Assouline's Vintage Cocktails stands out from the pack—this is a cocktail book that's actually worthy of a spot on your coffee (cocktail?) table. The drinks were shot at Bemelmans Bar in the The Carlyle in New York, and each photo is a monument to the cocktail, shot in gleaming, vintage-glassware glory. The settings are dark, moody, and hushed, like a bar you'd meet at for a secret tryst. This book makes you feel like putting on a slinky dress and maybe even gloves, breaking out the silver platter and the fancy ice bucket.
Though the spiral binding feels a bit utilitarian in contrast with the rest, it allows the book to rest open while you search for your bottle of Cointreau and choose cognac for your Between the Sheets. Hand-lettered recipes may feel a bit messy to some, but think of them like a scribbled note from your favorite bartender, with your signature drink scrawled on napkin to recreate at home later.
Do you have a favorite cocktail book? Please recommend it in the comments!